The Idea Dude


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moving around a mess only makes a tidier mess

I've been thinking a lot about social curation these days. Remember how blogs flooded the Internet and we then had blog aggregators to try and solve the problem. It succeeded to a certain extent but didn't do two things, remove the noise (albeit was less noisy) or the volume. For someone to read 100 blog posts each day instead of 1000 posts doesn't solve the problem and I'm not sure it even makes it better. In fact the illusion that it solved the problem actually causes you to waste time filtering the 80 out of the 100 you didn't want to read. So what did we end up doing, most of us pick the 10 bloggers we love the most and just stayed with them. Because fundamentally that's all we can handle. It's not wonder the long tail for blogs is a characteristic that has not gone away. We tried to solve the problem at TheGoodBlogs by random showing you blogs that never made it to your radar and we did manage to connect readers to interesting blogs that you would have never found.

Back to social curation. There are simply too many startups that claim to solve the social noise issue by following a similar strategy. Social noise is even worse than blogs because the dynamic here is very small soundbites but a lot more of them. Tweets will probably one day exceed the number of blog posts created on a daily basis, if it hasn't already. So if we attack social curation by simply grouping stuff and republishing it, we are not really solving the problem. At best it is a large bandaid just like it was for the blogs. So instead of having to follow a 10,000 tweets a day, you follow 500 and yes there are all the other pieces of social noise like Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates etc, etc. Essentially, after social curation (as it is done by many today), you have smaller piles of organized social noise.

So when you're faced with an ever increasing social entropy, you either end up spinning your wheels trying to keep up, stop being active in your least favorite accounts and probably resort to finding out what's happening from trusted sources at lunch or pub.

There's an interesting TV series on extreme hoarding, how people uncontrollably collect and hoard physical stuff. I would propose that digital hoarding is even worse because it is less obvious and far easier to fall into. Is it because we are fundamentally voyeurs who thirst to know what everyone else is doing. Not knowing simply drives us up the wall. Add to that, telling someone something they didn't know enhances our status and influence in our peer group. We didn't invent gossip, it is as old as time when Eve told Adam what the serpent told her, eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Like they say, money is not the root of all evil, it is the love of money. Well, knowledge is not the root of all digital evil either, perhaps it is the love of knowledge. Didn't someone says knowledge is power.


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